Cablegate: Mumbai Attacks Update: Diplomats in Delhi Deliver
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 NEW DELHI 003044
EO 12958 DECL: 12/02/2018
TAGS PGOV, PTER, PHUM, PREL, PINR, KDEM, KISL, PK, IN
SUBJECT: MUMBAI ATTACKS UPDATE: DIPLOMATS IN DELHI DELIVER
REF: A. NEW DELHI 3025 B. NEW DELHI 3024 C. NEW DELHI 3018 D. MUMBAI 550
Classified By: PolCouns Ted Osius for Reasons 1.4 (B, D)
1. (C) Summary: Diplomatic missions in Delhi have agreed to offer a more sympathetic message to the Indians rather than pound on the government for its massive intelligence failure. Evidence that Pakistani-based extremist group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) was the culprit is still not out in the open, although the question being asked now is whether Pakistan’s Intelligence Agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was directly involved in the attack. Dipomatic missions in Delhi are praising Delhi for its restraint while advising Pakistan that now is the time to collaborate. End Summary.
Offering Only Sympathy and Support
2. (C) At a 2 December meeting with counterparts from the Australian, British, Canadian, and New Zealand High Commissions, these diplomats communicated details of the controlled approach their respective missions in Delhi have taken in their responses to India’s reaction to the Mumbai attacks. They concluded that any offers of assistance should be made carefully to avoid being interpreted by the Indians as politically motivated or attempts to monitor their actions. Delhi-based missions are taking extra care at this stage to not get sucked into the blame game Pakistan and India are currently playing.
3. (C) The EU (diplomatic mission heads) are scheduled for a strategic dialogue with India on 5 December to discuss what type of support India would feel comfortable receiving; in addition, the EU plans to send to Delhi a counter-terrorism coordinator in January.
4. (C) The French Ambassador, according to the British High Commission, called the French, German, and Italian Ambassadors (unbeknownst to other EU partners) to discuss assistance to the Indians. President Sarkozy is expected to call Prime Minister Singh to express his sympathy and to offer cooperation at a suitable level.
5. (SBU) The Australian Prime Minister in his speech to his parliament said Australia “stands with India at this time” and offered any assistance that their “friends” in New Delhi may require. He stressed the importance of tracking down those responsible for the planning and execution of the Mumbai attacks, singling out LeT as an separatist militant group which has been a threat to India for a long time, but saying it is too early to speculate on who the perpetrators were.
The Million Dollar Question
6. (C) While Indian press continues to pin blame on Pakistan, observers and diplomats in Delhi are asking the same question: was the ISI behind the Mumbai attacks? While there are clear links between the attacks’ perpetrators and the extremist group LeT, and likewise, there are links between LeT and the ISI, there is no clear evidence yet to suggest that ISI directed or facilitated the attacks, according to the British High Commission.
Demarching the Indians and Pakistanis
7. (C) A British diplomat told us that UK Foreign Secretary Miliband urged restraint to External Affairs Minister
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Mukherjee when they spoke on 1 December. The call took place only after many delays on the GOI’s part. Mukherjee apparently disavowed any interest in raising tensions further, but insisted that Pakistan must take action in response to India,s demands. Our contact stressed that the UK had been very direct in presenting India and Pakistan with specific information regarding those responsible for the attacks. She also noted that the list of names the Indians had put on the “Most Wanted Criminals List” that had been passed to Islamabad included figures such as fugitive crime lord Dawood Ibrahim and Jaish-e-Mohammed Chief Maulana Azhar, who had been on prior lists the Indians had submitted. In her view, this took away from the focus on LeT members implicated in the Mumbai attacks.
8. (C) Narayanan, according to British diplomats, delivered the message that he understands Pakistan’s civilian government has no control over the ISI or the army. He said India is not blaming the Pakistani government. The Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is still waiting on the Pakistanis to provide the name of the ISI Director they plan to send as well as a date.
9. (C) The Australian High Commission delivered the message to the Pakistanis that this is a watershed and cooperation with the Indians now is crucial. The Australians have praised the Indians for the past restraint they have shown toward Pakistan and offered assistance, which was “politely denied”, according to an Australian diplomat.
10. (C) An official in the Pakistani High Commission in Delhi told Poloff that he held the Indian press responsible for any deterioration in the Indo-Pak relationship. Following the Indian press coverage which misrepresented the potential visit of the ISI Chief and complicated potential cooperation between the two governments, this diplomat said Zardari’s options became more limited and the GOP felt it had no other choice than to backpedal on its initial offer, made before the Mumbai attacks, to send its ISI Chief to India. MULFORD